KSTP-TV operates two full-power satellite stations: KSAX (virtual channel 42, UHF digital channel 24) in Alexandria (with transmitter near Westport), and KRWF (virtual channel 43, UHF digital channel 27) in Redwood Falls (with transmitter near Vesta). KSTP-TV also serves the Mankato market as an alternate CBS affiliate (via K30FN-D in nearby St. James through the local municipal-operated Cooperative TV [CTV] network of translators). KSTP previously served as the default ABC affiliate for the Mankato market until its disaffiliation from the network in 2007.
Nielsen Media Research treats KSTP-TV and its satellites as one station in local ratings books, using the identifier name KSTP+.
Early years with NBC and ABCEdit
Stanley E. Hubbard, founder of KSTP radio, was one of broadcasting's foremost pioneers. In June 1939, he purchased one of the first television cameras available from RCA and began experimenting with television, but the television blackout brought on by World War II prevented any transmissions from being made. The first telecast by KSTP-TV reportedly occurred on December 7, 1947, when Jack Horner hosted a 25-minute program. On April 27, 1948, KSTP-TV signed on as the first commercial television station in Minnesota, although an experimental mechanical television station had been set up by WDGY station engineers more than a decade earlier. That station's license expired in 1938 as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was not interested in continuing mechanical TV broadcasts.
KSTP-TV was originally an NBC affiliate, as KSTP radio had been an affiliate of the NBC Red Network since 1928. Channel 5 claims to have been the NBC television network's first affiliate located west of the Mississippi River; however, this distinction is actually held by KSD-TV (now KSDK) in St. Louis, which signed on one year earlier. (Also, both the studios and the transmitter are located east of the river.) It was part of NBC's Midwest Network, a regional group of NBC affiliates that fed programming in the days before the coaxial cable link to New York City. In 1961, due to its status as an NBC affiliate, it was the first television station not owned by a network to broadcast all of its local programs in color.
In the mid-1970s, ABC—which had become the top-rated television network in the United States—began looking for stronger affiliates across the country. KMSP-TV (channel 9), the Twin Cities' ABC affiliate since 1961, had long struggled in the ratings. ABC had approached independent station WTCN-TV (channel 11, now KARE), CBS affiliate WCCO-TV (channel 4, which would ultimately become an O&O station of that network 28 years later), and KSTP-TV to affiliate with the network. Channel 5 surprised the industry in August 1978 by announcing its intention to sever ties with then third-place NBC after 30 years to join ABC. The affiliation switch occurred on March 5, 1979 and was ABC's biggest coup at the time; the NBC affiliation subsequently went to WTCN-TV that same day. “We want to go into the 1980s in a leadership position with a network which we think has the management, team and depth to be the best. That's ABC. We're just absolutely thrilled,” said KSTP's Stanley S. Hubbard, son of station founder Stanley E. Hubbard. In 2000, Hubbard Broadcasting purchased independent station KVBM-TV (channel 45; now KSTC), creating Minnesota's first commercial television station duopoly (though there is a longstanding public television duopoly: KTCA/KTCI).
As a CBS stationEdit
On June 29, 2006, CBS signed a long-term affiliation agreement with Hubbard Broadcasting which caused all of its stations to switch to the network. Although CBS had already owned WCCO (one of the network's strongest affiliates) at the time, it was time that the network jumped ship to channel 5. The affiliation changeover occured on January 8, 2007, and ABC programming moved to WCCO. It is one of a few stations in the United States to have been affiliated with all "Big Three" networks. CBS acquired the Hubbard radio and television stations outright on May 1, 2007, making KSTP an owned-and-operated station; the sale was completed on August 3rd of that year.
KSTP-TV has used its "groovy 5" logo or variations on it since April 1969—it is the longest-used station logo in the Upper Midwest. By 1982, the design contained a white '5' on a red rounded edge square background. The number was italicized for a time in the mid-to-late 1980s. In the early 1990s, the logo endured a more dramatic makeover, with a gold colored '5' on a blue ABC-style disc (with either the call letters or the Eyewitness News name imprinted upon it), with the center colored in green. By the late 1990s, a brighter logo—still with a gold '5'—returned to the rectangular look, adding a black ABC logo. From 2004 to early 2016, a white '5' was used on a red parallelogram, originally featuring the ABC logo from 2004 to 2007, then the CBS logo from 2007 to 2016. On February 3, 2016, the logo was redesigned, and now features the "groovy 5" logo in blue or yellow, with the CBS eye on the left side.